Many Nebraska parents will be attending end of summer sporting events where children receive ribbons or a medal for participating. Earlier this month Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison made a big deal out of returning the participation trophies his children received at sports camp saying they weren’t earned.
Dr. Joe Evans is a child psychologist and director of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute and he too used to coach youth sports. He says this is a big deal over nothing.
Dr. Evans says, “It is a big to-do about nothing on this thing. If you think about a participation trophy and I gave kids I coached every year some type of an award so I’m kind of a pro in that direction. It isn’t really not for achievement but for the effort, hard work and team play that goes into making a team. If you only gave achievement awards we’d only have two or three kids playing ball.”
Dr. Evans says kids are smart and know if they win or lose a game and that is why external motivators are needed sometimes to keep kids motivated. This is especially important for younger children who are just developing an interested in team sports.